CANTON -- Sprayberry went on the road and beat Creekview 27-21 on Friday night as a four-way logjam formed in the fight for the final two playoff spots out of Region 6AAAAAA.
The Yellow Jackets (5-4, 4-3) won behind the play of their offensive and defensive lines. They rushed for 253 yards, while holding Creekview (6-3, 4-3) to 46, controlling the line of scrimmage for what seemed like the entire game.
Sprayberry's win and Creekview's loss pushed the teams into a four-way tie for third along with Dalton and Sequoyah. The Yellow Jackets will have the more favorable draw next week against River Ridge, while the Grizzlies must beat region champion Harrison.
“Our defensive line played really well tonight,” Sprayberry coach Brett Vavra said. “Marlon Krakue, Justin Johnson and Christian Mergler -- they really really held their own. I thought we controlled the line of scrimmage defensively, and offensively, we were just good enough to pop a few runs here and there and get Damarion (Owens) going.”
One week after being held to 34 yards in a loss to Sequoyah, Owens finished with 180 yards and two touchdowns on 30 carries, and he looked every bit of the running back who led Cobb County in rushing entering the week.
Creekview had to battle back in the fourth quarter, but it was the Grizzlies who led 7-0 less than 2 minutes into the game. Following Cale Williams' kickoff return to the Sprayberry 3-yard line to open the game, Cole Hasty plunged in from 1 yard out to score the first points of the game.
Sprayberry answered back, but it wasn’t Owens who led the way. Kyle Brown, who finished 8-for-16 passing for 116 yards, found both Deji Thomas and Josh Bush for long touchdown passes late in the first quarter, and Sprayberry led 13-7 at the start of the second.
Owens’ first touchdown of the game made the score 20-7 as Sprayberry’s running game began to take its toll in the first half.
“We couldn’t get them stopped defensively in the first half,” Creekview coach Trevor Williams said. “They ran the ball right at us and we couldn’t stop the bleeding until it was too late.”
Brody Rhodes, who finished 17-for-30 for 213 yards, connected with Ethan Dirrim to cut Sprayberry’s lead to 20-14, but the Yellow Jackets responded once more with a nine-play, 70-yard touchdown drive just before halftime. Owens scored from 7 yards out on this occasion, and Sprayberry led 27-14 at the half.
“That was a dogfight,” Sprayberry offensive tackle Jake O’Buck said. “Those are some tough boys. I’ve played a lot of football games in my career and that was by far the most physical one. I’m exhausted.”
Both defenses seemed to make adjustments in the second half as the offenses struggled to move the ball after halftime. Sprayberry’s defensive front continued to stifle the Creekview running game and forced the Grizzlies into obvious passing downs where they were unable to find a rhythm until late in the fourth quarter.
Sprayberry outgained Creekview 369-259 in total yards.
“We practice hard this week and our motto was just to go 1-0,” Sprayberry defensive lineman Marlon Krakue said. “That motto and our coaching is what did it. We played like a family tonight.”
The third quarter went scoreless as Creekview’s defense seemed to clamp down on Sprayberry’s offense as well, but it was not until there were less than 2 minutes left to play that the Grizzlies were able to cut into the lead. Rhodes found Dawson Currie for a 15-yard touchdown, but the ensuing onside kick attempt was unsuccessful for Creekview and Sprayberry ran out the remainder of the clock.
“We had an off week last week against Sequoyah, and you can’t have those,” O’Buck said. “This is a tough region, and you can’t have off weeks. This, tonight, is the team that we are. This is how good we can be. It took us some time to get here, but we’re a family now, and we’re a force to be reckoned with now.”